News You Can Use:

POTUS Sirius XM Radio, “Common Core Standards Help Ensure a Military Child Does Not Fall Behind”: In an interview with host Tim Farley, former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer discusses the importance of Common Core State Standards, particularly for military families that move frequently. Citing a recent Stimson Center report, Gov. Brewers says, “This tells us there is a huge connection between K-12 education and military bases… we want to have consistent standards that are smooth from one base to another and that [military-connected students] are also ready for college and career.” On Fox News Radio, Gov. Brewer adds that discrepancies in education standards can leave children struggling to keep up or sitting through material they’ve already learned when they change schools. “We have an obligation, in my opinion, to take care of our servicemen and their families to ensure that the military-connected students are receiving a high-quality education.” Noting students in military families move on average three times more often than their peers in non-military families, on the Bryan Crabtree Show Gov. Brewer says, “We have to ensure to them they are ready for college and a career…so that when military families move their children, they aren’t wasting their time or they aren’t falling behind.”

What It Means: Gov. Brewer makes clear that consistent, challenging education standards are necessary to ensure students of all backgrounds are prepared for the next step after high school whether they choose college, a career or military service. Gov. Brewer points out that children of service members move on average six to nine times during their K-12 career, or about three times more often than their peers in non-military families. The Common Core sets a rigorous baseline for each grade level that helps ensure students in one state are held to adequately high expectations as students in another state. That consistency gives families confidence their child will face fewer challenges when moving between classrooms, and that they will receive an education that fully prepares them for college, a career or military service.

Educators for High Standards, “Raising the Bar through Deeper Instruction”: Troy Rivera, an English language arts teacher in Colorado, writes that following the transition to Common Core State Standards, expectations for students shifted to put greater emphasis on content understanding. The Common Core “raised the bar for our students,” Rivera says. “Standards are not curriculum, they are expectations.” Explaining that the standards have helped prioritize collaboration, critical thinking and cooperation, Rivera says he discovered students “were being challenged and discovering their full potential as lifelong learners.” “Raising the bar will lead to deeper rigorous instruction. Yes, this will be hard or awkward in the beginning, but this is the best for our students,” the piece states. “My teaching consists of raising the bar for all students…I choose to raise the bar, and I choose to provide a deeper and rigorous instruction for my students.”

What It Means: Like Rivera, educators continue to strongly support Common Core State Standards. A Scholastic study last fall found more than eight in ten teachers who work closely with the Common Core support implementation, and more than two-thirds report an improvement in their students’ critical thinking and reasoning abilities. In Kentucky and Tennessee, two of the earliest adopters of the Common Core, students have made some of the biggest academic improvements in the country, including steady gains in proficiency rates at most grade levels and increases in college-readiness scores. By setting high learning goals for each grade level and giving local educators control of how to achieve them, the Common Core ensures more students will graduate high school fully prepared for college, a career or military service.

Education Week, “Beyond Fiction: Expanding What Counts as Meaningful Student Reading”: Columnist Betty Hsu writes that by putting a greater emphasis on non-fiction material, Common Core State Standards encourage students to expand their scope by using “more informational and non-fiction texts, and to stop relying solely on traditional literary texts.” “I think it’s an important first step,” Hsu says. “When we expand the scope of what’s considered ‘good reading material,’ we increase the chances of our students encountering content that they actually find interesting.” Noting that one article on sports she encountered a student reading had a Lexile Text Measure score of 1080L, comparable to Pride and Prejudice, Hsu points out, “Studies have shown that students are much more likely to read and to learn from what they’re reading when they’re personally invested in their reading and learning material.”

What It Means: By prioritizing non-fiction materials, the Common Core empowers teachers to reinforce students’ natural affinity for literature with historical documents and other resources. Because requirements emphasizing non-fiction texts are spread across subjects, the standards encourage greater cross-curriculum collaboration. “The Common Core challenges teachers to provide high school students with an appreciation of the foundational works of American literature,” explains Jeff Baxter, a Kansas English teacher. “The standards elevate the English language, invite students to discover the enduring relevance and wonder of great literature, and have improved my teaching of [classic novels].”


Correcting the Record:

Washington Times, “Ending Washington’s Mandate on Common Core”: Senator Pat Roberts, a member of the U.S. Senate HELP Committee, writes that Congress will begin debate of the Every Child Achieves Act to end “Washington’s mandate on Common Core.” Criticizing the Obama Administration for “forcing states to adopt the standards,” Sen. Roberts says the legislation will “end the Obama Administration’s – and for that matter, any future administration’s – ability to use any tool of coercion to force states to adopt Common Core – or any set of standards at all, whether it’s Common Core by another name or some new set of standards…While we all agree that setting high standards for our schools, our teachers and our children is the right thing to do, we also believe standards should be decided by states, by our state leaders, teachers, school boards and parents. There should not be bribes or mandates from Washington.”

Where They Went Wrong: The Every Child Achieves Act provides important language protecting states’ control of education issues, but contrary to Sen. Roberts’ claim, states were not forced into adopting the Common Core. The standards were developed through a state-led initiative, and, recognizing the old patchwork of academic standards create big disparities in the quality of education, states voluntarily adopted the standards. Having college- and career-ready standards accounted for less than 10% of states’ applications for Race to the Top funds, and states that didn’t adopt CCSS still qualified, as Bellwether Education’s Anne Hyslop confirmed in a radio interview. The Congressional Research Service also clarified that the Department of Education did not “coerce” states into adopting the Common Core. Objective analysis has also rejected claims that the Common Core is a federal program or that it dictates what or how teachers lead their class. As experts like former Education Secretary Bill Bennett have noted, the Common Core sets high learning goals and gives educators control over how to achieve them, ensuring more students will graduate high school fully prepared for college, a career or military service.


On Our Reading List:

Idaho Statesman “State Releases a First Look at Common Core Test Results”: On Wednesday, the Idaho Department of Education released the aggregate results from its Smarter Balanced tests, which were given for the first time this year. Students beat projected performance results, with about half or fewer students at or above proficiency levels in math and English language arts. The article notes the Smarter Balanced exams test to high standards and require students to explain their reasoning, unlike the old ISAT test the state used before. About 160,000 students participated in the assessments. Final numbers, including individual reports to parents, will be provided in October.

Columbus Dispatch “Ohio Will Replace PARCC Tests with Shorter Tests from AIR”: On Wednesday, State Superintendent Richard Ross said Ohio educators will work with American Institutes for Research (AIR) to develop new tests to support the state’s Common Core standards. On Tuesday, Gov. John Kasich signed a budget bill defunding the state’s involvement with the PARCC consortium. Under the new law, the assessments must be shorter, be offered during a single testing window and return results faster.